Filmmaking partners Guillaume Giovanetti and Cagla Zencirci immersed themselves in the magical world of Japanese folklore to create this intricate and delightfully amusing modern-day parable.

Contemporary World Cinema

Ningen

Guillaume Giovanetti, Cagla Zencirci

In Japanese folklore, the kitsune, or fox, and the tanuki, or raccoon, are the two animals with the ability to shape-shift into human beings, usually for the purposes of deception and mischief. In their remarkable new film, directing duo Guillaume Giovanetti and Çagla Zencirci tell a modern parable of a kitsune and tanuki who attempt to con a rich man out of his gold — only to lose themselves in the process.

The story begins with Mr. Yoshino, an elderly gentleman running a rapidly failing company. Fearing that he may let down his hundreds of employees, as well as his loving wife, Wajima, he turns to an old friend, a Chinese restaurant owner living in Japan, for guidance and distraction. Yoshino is a lost soul, teetering on the edge of his fragile existence and hoping to put the pieces of his life back together. But as mythological elements begin to seep into Ningen, we realize that characters are not always what they seem — the kitsune and the tanuki could be lurking behind any corner.

As they did in Pakistan for their first narrative feature, Noor, Zencirci and Giovanetti have embedded themselves deep inside the storytelling traditions of Kyoto and emerged with a remarkable mixture of fantasy and allegory. Brimming with generous attention to detail, the film is packed with comedic surprises. Interlacing elements from varied myths and legends, Ningen feels like a great work of Japanese literature, one that combines absurdist comedy and storybook imagery in the service of a cunning and very clever little cautionary tale.

Cameron Bailey

Screenings

Sat Sep 07

TIFF Bell Lightbox 5

Industry
9:15pm
Sun Sep 08

TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Regular
6:15pm
Tue Sep 10

Scotiabank 9

Regular
6:15pm
Thu Sep 12

Scotiabank 9

Industry
8:30pm
Sun Sep 15

Scotiabank 10

Regular
9:30am